TOP football clubs have started testing players for nitrous oxide use, with a growing number addicted to the “laughing gas” drug.
Teams are noticing huge differences in the expected lung capacity of players and how they can actually perform.
His usage came to light when a car he was travelling in was stopped by police who found dozens of canisters.
His family alerted the club and a medical intervention was made.
Dozens of Premier League stars, including England internationals, are known to be regular users of the drug — with many wrongly believing that it is harmless.
But long-term use can reduce the body’s levels of Vitamin B12 — essential for nerve function.
One Prem player spent £10,000 on laughing gas canisters for a recent birthday party. And now clubs are testing for nitrous oxide abuse when carrying out medicals.
A source said: “One player was massively addicted. He was with a club and during a fitness test they said the nerves in his legs were f****d.
“He admitted he was doing loads of balloons and they got rid of him.
“His agent got him into another club for a trial and they were keen to sign him.
“But when they carried out his medical they basically said ‘You’re an addict’ and ended their interest. He’s now without a club.”
Other players have been questioned by medical teams after their legs twitched uncontrollably while they were being treated for other injuries.
Another source said: “It’s an absolutely massive problem, which clubs are only just starting to understand and get a grip on.
“Players think they can get away with it because it doesn’t show up in drug tests and until recently it wasn’t illegal, but some are addicts and it’s having a hugely negative effect on their health and their careers.”
In 2022 doctors warned they were seeing increased numbers of patients with neurological injuries caused by laughing gas including spinal cord and nerve damage.
Sport science professor and former FA performance head John Brewer warned of the impact that it could have on players.
He said of the drug: “If you’re a top-level footballer trying to make skilful movements and pass a ball effectively, you don’t want your nerves to be damaged in any way because you need that peripheral ability to sense movements.”
PREM STAR DRUG RIDE
Amir Razavi & Richard Moriarty
A PREMIER League rising star has been fined after he was caught inhaling laughing gas while driving.
Man City defender Jamal Baptiste, 20, remained stationary at traffic lights in his VW Polo for about a minute after they turned green.
He was seen inhaling the balloons with a pal in Dagenham, East London, on July 7 last year.
He pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and was given six penalty points and a £1,000 fine by magistrates at Bromley, South London. He also had to pay a £400 victim surcharge plus costs of £110.
It comes a week after The Sun revealed that a Premier League star was receiving rehab treatment for addiction to nitrous oxide.
Baptiste is a former West Ham centre-back once billed as the next Rio Ferdinand by the club’s former striker Carlton Cole.
Last May the club reportedly offered Baptiste a new deal but slashed his wages due to issues off the pitch.
He moved to Man City on a free transfer in September. He is described on the club website as “an athletic and technically gifted defender who featured twice for West Ham while representing England at youth level.”